It is great to see how the manufacturers themselves are testing their products and are also trying to develop new solutions for greener transport of the future. Newly married Irena and Stephane decided to go on their honeymoon trip to test their Pony4 solar bikes and to see Sun Trip prologue back in 2021. Stephane is the owner of Katanga, the velomobile producer from Brno, which also manufactures the Pony4 quad, so it is no surprise they used the long version of this four-wheel recumbent that they equipped with solar panels to help them cover longer distances in shorter time. They also took their two big dogs with them, making the trip even more interesting.

I have asked Stephane a few questions, but you will get a better idea about the journey through the video they published just a few days ago.

How many days did it take you to pedal from Brno to Brussels and back?
We left Friday, 28th of May, 2021, and returned on Sunday, 27th of June. We joined the Prologue of the Suntrip in the French Alzace the 8th of June. We participated with their agenda, the promotion of clean transport solutions, in major Belgian cities and the European commision.

And how many kilometers did you cover? 
We did 2.700 km / 1,678 miles from Brno, Czech Republic, passing Austria, Germany, and France to Brussels, Belgium, and back to Brno, passing the Netherlands and Germany.

Please mention the equipment of the quads: the drivetrain, motors, solar charging, and any special adjustments just for the journey.  
The basic is, of course, the PONY4 long frame. A Bafang BBS02 500W 48V motor with two batteries of 750 Wh. A Rohloff 14-speed gear hub as an intermediate axle under the seat. Regarding the solar installation, I received advice from Dario Ciani from in Switzerland, who does prepare specific solar bicycles on request.

How much did you charge from the Sun, and how much from the socket?
I did not measure that, but we only charged from the socket when there were rainy or fully cloudy days. We had several days in a row when it was not necessary to charge from the socket at all. If the sun shone at least 50% of the time, it provided enough power.

How about your dogs? Were they running for half a day or just a few kilometers? Did you adjust the route for them somehow?
We tried to select roads with little traffic. As soon as the navigation brought us to car-free roads, we let the dogs run. This was something like 5 km / 3 miles per day and was not always possible.

What is the most significant memory from the start of the Sun Trip? 
To be honest, we missed the start of the Sun trip… We had a tight calendar as we needed to bike back to Brno and be on time, and at the last moment, the departure of the Sun Trip 2021 was postponed by one day. But we were with the group already a couple of days and met most of the participants personally, including also, just before the departure, Jean-Marc Dubouloz with his solar WAW, who then won the race. What left the most significant memory was the kindness and sympathy of all the Sun Trip people.

Will you use some experience from the journey in the production of the Pony4 or your velomobiles? 
Yes, we are developing a semi-trailer camper for the PONY4 now with a solar panel of 1,6 square meters / 17,2 sqft of the surface. It will be an ideal traveling solution!

Thank you for the interview!

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